Burying the Ex Review
Written by Katie Bonham
DVD released by Voltage Pictures
Directed by Joe Dante
Written by Alan Trezza
2015, 89 minutes, Rated 15 (UK)
VOD released on 19th June 2015
Anton Yelchin as Max
Ashley Greene as Evelyn
Alexandra Daddario as Olivia
Oliver Cooper as Travis
Burying the Ex follows Max (Anton Yelchin), a kind thirty something film fan, who works in a horror themed novelty shop. Max is stuck in the relationship from hell with Evelyn (Ashley Greene), a possessive, 'green' activist vegan. Her obsessive and bullying ways come to a head when she decides to re-decorate Max's living room to be 100% green friendly, with natural paints and hessian rugs, and in the process removes two of his original film posters from the walls and folds (yes folds) them away in a draw. Max also meets cool girl Olivier (Alexandra Daddario) who works at i-Scream, an ice cream parlour themed around horror characters (a match made in screenwriting heaven). Max decides to end the relationship with Evelyn, but while crossing the road, unknowingly on her way to meet Max where he’ll break up with her, she is run over by a bus and killed. This would be fine if they hadn't made a reckless love pact where Max works and in front of the Satan Genie (a toy evil genie who grants horrible wishes) in which they promised to be together forever. Cue a resurrected decaying (ex) girlfriend who wants nothing more than to spend eternity with him...
The acting is pretty average, but for a horror rom-com there’s not much in the way of career-defining roles. Ashley Greene is convincing as the overly annoying and oppressive girlfriend, and ten minutes in you want to bash her brains in yourself, zombie or not. For the duration of the film I was waiting for Olivia's character to be more empowered and not to pander to Max and his needs, but instead I got to watch a man try to choose over two 'hot' girls, who have no other purpose than to fall into step with his character (What horror century are we in?). Max's character does become tiresome as he lets Evelyn bully him and coasts through the relationship unhappy, finding it easier to be with her than to cause trouble. You are left not really liking Max; sure, he's got a pretty cool job, has good film taste and he likes horror films, but that's the extent of his likeability.
The makeup for the decaying zombified girlfriend is pretty subtle, and develops through heavy makeup, minor skin decay, and cracking bones, which allows for a slow descent of her decomposing body. Throw in a few flies circling her and some pretty gross, gooey kisses for good measure and you have one repulsive budget zombie. Developed from a 2008 short written and directed by Alan Trezza, who adapted the short for this feature, and at one hour forty minutes the story does feel overstretched. The plot is simple and the slow burning character development is pretty painful to watch, it feels like we are watching Max grow a backbone in real time.
From horror legend Joe Dante (Gremlins, The Howling), Burying the Ex is full of horror references from set design, quotes and scenes directly attributing some of the most iconic horror films, showing full homage to some of Dante's favourites, which is mostly an array of classics including Cat People (Major kudos for including that gem). However, zombie rom-coms are nothing new what with Warm Bodies and Life After Beth previously released, and Dante brings nothing new to this genre. Burying the Ex delivers a simple story with only a backdrop of horror nostalgia to keep diehard horror fans happy. The last directorial release for Dante was back in 2009 and I was really rooting for him to deliver, but Burying the Ex blends in with the rest of the horror rom-coms and is easily forgettable.